S.F. DA George Gascon has a big lead over his challengers, capturing 42 percent of the first-choice votes Tuesday night. But a winner won't be declared until sometime Wednesday as election officials tabulate second- and third-place votes under the city's ranked-choice balloting.
"I'm feeling good, but it's early yet," Gascon said at his campaign event Tuesday night. Asked a bit later if he thinks Onek can catch up, he said: "I'm new to this."
Challengers David Onek and Sharmin Bock had 23 and 21 percent of the first-choice votes, with Bill Fazio at about 11 percent.
"No matter how it turns out," Bock said late Tuesday, "we ran a hell of a campaign and raised issues that needed to be talked about."
Gascon, a Gavin Newsom appointee endorsed by the Police Officers Association, Attorney General Kamala Harris and much of the legal establishment, lagged behind the other candidates in fundraising throughout the campaign. His opponents pointed to his lack of legal experience and the conflict they saw between his role as district attorney and his former role as chief of police, especially when Public Defender Jeff Adachi released video footage of cops allegedly conducting illegal searches and stealing items from citizens. Bock, Fazio and Onek teamed up in October to criticize Gascon for not releasing an internal memo, written by DNA expert Rockne Harmon, that alleged evidence coming out of the SFPD's DNA crime lab might be unreliable.
But that didn't move the needle much. "Gascon's the best choice for the safety of the city," Harris told supporters Tuesday night.
During his 9-month tenure as DA, Gascon implemented a neighborhood courts prosecution program, similar to that of the existing Community Justice Court, to levy outside-the-courtroom punishments for misdemeanors and quality of life crimes. By election time, Gascon had rolled the program out to four different neighborhoods.
Onek, Bock and Fazio never made much headway. Polls showed each of them with less than 10 percent
of the vote just a few weeks before election day. Onek, who like Gascon has never tried a case, ran on a reform platform, promising to never seek the death penalty and to make sweeping changes to how juveniles are charged in the city. Bock's 22 years of prosecutorial experience in Alameda County was a cornerstone of her campaign. Fazio, meanwhile, launched his fourth bid for the DA's job in August, after most major organizations (including the POA, a previous supporter of his) had made endorsements.